BIZSPHERE, an integrated branding and marketing management company which focuses on SMEs Branding has released the latest findings from its SME online survey titled “Maximising Brand Potential for Malaysian SMEs” which was carried out in October and November 2017. The survey was distributed mainly through emails to over 10,000 business communities. The survey partners include MATRADE, SAME, MAYBANK and AVIS Malaysia.

Brand Investment
The study shows that “High Cost of Brand Investment” is top key internal and external challenges for SMEs to bring their brand to the next level. “Insufficient Fund for Brand and Marketing” was most voted (53%) as their top internal challenges whilst “High Cost in Brand Communication” ranked top (52%) for external challenges by SMEs. BIZSPHERE Managing Consultant, Yap Keng Teck believes that lack of strategic branding plan for brand communication is the main reason why SMEs perceive that the cost for brand communication is high and they do not have sufficient funds for it. “SMEs can be more cost effective by selecting only the most relevant and effective media and programmes for their brands instead of just following what others are doing. Most SMEs lack capability to find differentiation or strong value proposition for their brands.” “SMEs are not learning and adapting fast enough to face the borderless digital economy especially the Industrial Revolution 4.0.” says Keng Teck.

Digital Marketing
SMEs are clearly moving towards digital communications to promote their brands. Digital Media has been voted as the most effective communication channel (58%) compared with engagement activities 39% and conventional media 16%. In addition, social media is regarded to be most relevant with 59% vote followed with online ads with 45% vote.  BIZSPHERE Brand Manager, Yip Wai Ling is not surprised by the result as Malaysia has one of the highest ratio of online social communities and active users in the region. “SMEs know that digital marketing is important but many still do not know how and rely on social media agencies.” BIZSPHERE urges SMEs to not choose the agencies with the lowest cost but to choose the ones that understand your branding needs and link it back to your business growth strategy.

Brand & Marketing Support
In average, half of the SMEs are unaware of the support and assistance programmes offered by government agencies and trade associations.  Only 8% has participated and benefited from the programmes offered.  BIZSPHERE disagrees that these government agencies & trade associations are not doing a good job as we have received multiple invitations for many programmes over the years. “Many SMEs still do not pay enough attention to the news announcements and email notifications from the agencies. I have met with many SMEs who knows about the programmes but reluctant to participate with the excuses of time consuming and tedious process. It is sad to hear such statements when unable to get government assistance programme for brand & marketing is one of the top 5 external challenges for SMEs.” said Keng Teck. “I would also like to stress that Government agencies DOES NOT appoint any agents to apply for grants. SMEs need to stop thinking that there will be guaranteed results by going through such ‘agents’. There are SMEs who seek for consulting assistance to guide them but acknowledged that they can’t expect guarantee results. SMEs need to learn from the process & to be independent in the long run.

Wishlist for Branding Resources
The survey indicated that SMEs’ priority is to get into action to promote their brands more than having sufficient knowledge and skills to build a strong branding platform. The top 5 resources chosen were mainly to reach out to their targeted audience or markets. The Top 5 wishlist includes access to government assistance programmes, promotion through digital media, promotion through engagement events, allocation of budget for brand and marketing and dedication of resources for brand management. BIZSPHERE is surprised that many of the more strategic resources were not chosen as the top 5 resources. Market intelligence and access to new markets; practical branding and marketing knowledge through coaching and training should be prioritized as it is the foundation to build a strong brand. “I am a strong believer for SMEs brand owners to champion the growth of their brands. I am saying this despite being a brand consultant. SMEs who seek help from brand and marketing agencies should not rely or dependent on agencies to drive the brand. Instead , work closely and learn from your marketing partners.” added Keng Teck.


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